Newfoundland National Convention, 27 March 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada


March 27, 1947

Report of the Fisheries Committee:[1] Committee of the Whole

Mr. Job We shall begin on page 40[2] — 'Consideration of Other Pertinent Factors.' I suggest that section be now read by the Secretary....
[The Secretary read the section of the report]
Mr. Hickman On page 44 in connection with government expenditure on fisheries research, it shows for 1945-46 there was $12,000 less a refund from the Canadian treasury of $4,100, but in 1946-47 there is no refund of a similar nature. I was wondering if the convenor could tell us what the refund constituted?
Mr. Keough The figures for 1946-47 run only to the end of January. The government year goes to the end of March, and if there was a refund coming it would be at the end of March.
Mr. Hickman But there was no estimated refund?
Mr. Keough No.
Mr. Hickman What was the refund for?
Mr. Keough The Canadian government did not use the whole $12,000 for 1945-46, but returned some to the Newfoundland government. In 1946- 47 they expected to use the whole sum.
Mr. Smallwood I would like to call attention to the last paragraph on page 55: "Without seeking to detract in any way from the Board's accomplishments the Committee would suggest that henceforth the Board should seek to exercise more supervision at the point of production to ensure better quality products." I think, Mr. Chairman, that at this point I would be justified in reading that letter from Lamaline, because it deals with the question of quality and standards and grades of fish, and it reads as follows....
Mr. Chairman The letter is admitted.
Mr. Smallwood
Dear Sir:
On hearing your broadcast over VONF, which we admire very much and listen to at every opportunity, I was asked by the people of Lamaline to write to you and ask you to ask the question at the Convention if anyone knows how much merchantable codfish is exported from Newfoundland. We sell March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 403 thousands of quintals of codfish here in Lamaline, and we never get one merchantable fish. I don't know one man that ever got a merchantable codfish, so we would like to know if there is such a thing as a merchantable codfish. We salt and dry and wash our fish, and we make our fish. We made better fish last summer than for years past, but we never got one merchantable fish. Now the people are very anxious to know if there is such a thing as a merchantable codfish, and we thought you would be the right man to find out and let us know, either over the air or by letter.
We hear over the radio that you speak too loud, but the louder you speak the better we like it.
I do hope we will get a better cull on our fish next year than Madeira or West Indies. Of course if there is no such thing as a merchantable fish we would like to know it, but please don't mention my name, but I would like to know if there is such a thing as merchantable codfish, because I think it is right for the people to know.
Yours truly,
I would like Mr. Job, or someone else, to tell us are the words "merchantable fish"just words, or is there such a thing? Could someone throw some light on that perplexing question?....
Mr. Job I should think the best way for Mr. Smallwood to find that out would be to interview the Fisheries Board. We must presume their fish is not good enough to classify that way. It is probably greatly exaggerated; I imagine there is a certain quantity of merchantable fish everywhere, but the quantity is small nowadays because the same care is not taken with the cure; the main bulk of the fish shipped is good Madeira fish....
Mr. Smallwood I know there is no merchantable fish in Lamaline, but what they want to know is, is there such a thing as a merchantable fish?
Mr. Job We are not cullers here.
Mr. Hollett I object very strongly to the use of this Convention for answering anonymous letters. I can bring in half a dozen tomorrow. I object to anonymous letters, the contents of which I doubt very much. I can't conceive of any fisherman making fish and not getting any merchant able fish at all. It is a good many years since I was associated with a fishing settlement, but I know they did make considerable merchantable fish.
Mr. Hillier As to whether or not merchantable fish has been made at Lamaline, I say, "Yes, it has been made there"; but according to the information furnished by fishermen, they have not got that rating. One man took particular care in curing his fish, and he took his fish along and it was culled and as he said, it was "picture fish", but he got no better price than the other man who brought in an inferior quality. Therefore I can understand the man saying, "Is there any merchantable fish?" Whether it is the grading or not I cannot say; but according to the information furnished me by the fishermen of Lamaline, and they are all shore fishermen, they don't seem to be able to get no. I grade. Where the fault lies I cannot say, but these are the facts.
Mr. Job It seems rather a waste of time to spend time on that question when we have such a large report to get through.
Mr. Smallwood I don't think the people of Newfoundland would consider it one moment wasted, and I would ask Mr. Hillier if he believes this letter to be genuine.
Mr. Hillier That's a genuine letter from Lamaline, and I happen to know the man who wrote that letter. He is a fisherman of many years. He is not very active now.
Mr. Job The remedy seems to be some sort of an inspector to whom a man can appeal on a question of cullage. Anyone who knows anything about cullage can see that it's very difficult to say on the borderline whether a fish is first or second quality. I say that's a matter of representation to the Fishery Board.
Mr. Starkes I think that matter should be dealt with in this Convention, because the people will know what we are doing on the fisheries. I disagree with Mr. Job and agree with the letter from Lamaline to Mr. Smallwood. The rule is that the fish should be culled Merchantable, Madeira, and Thirds. The last two are all the one price to the fishermen, and therefore they are not encouraged. They can make fish that's classified as Thirds and get the same price as they would for Madeira. My experience is that it is almost impossible to get a no. 1 fish that will pass inspection.
Mr. Hollett Has the Fishery Committee information as to the amount of merchantable fish 404 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 shipped from Newfoundland last year? If the fishermen are getting no grade for merchantable fish, and they are getting merchantable fish, there is something wrong.
Mr. Reddy It is very difficult for the fishermen to get merchantable fish now. I don't know why, but the bulk of it is Madeira.
Mr. Hollett Do I understand from Mr. Job that there are no records to show how much fish was merchantable?
Mr. Job No.
Mr. Hollett Why?
Mr. Job The exports don't show it. There is no record in the exports of the amount of merchantable fish. They simply have a record of the amount to certain markets.
Mr. Hollett But it must be graded. How else is it shipped?
Mr. Job No, it is not.
Mr. Crosbie Excuse me, but you are wrong, Mr. Job.
Mr. Job Can you tell me?
Mr. Crosbie Every fish has to be passed by a government inspector. It is shown in the Fishery Board return, the amount of merchantable fish, Madeira, etc., because you must have a record before it is shipped.
Mr. Job But do they keep the statistics?
Mr. Crosbie Well, they should certainly.
Mr. Hollett There are three copies made out, one for the packer, one for the shipper and one for the Fishery Board.
Mr. Job Well, we have not got it here and we can't get it from the Customs.
Mr. Ashbourne I think that information can be secured from the Fishery Board, and I believe I heard or read recently about the small percentage of merehantable fish that was exported from Newfoundland. We export some merchantable fish from Twillingate, not a very large amount, but the fishermen do sell some merchantable fish to us. The exact percentage I could not tell, but I firmly believe that that information can be secured from the Fisheries Board.
Mr. Hollett Will Mr. Job undertake to get that information from the Fisheries Board?
Mr. Job I think Mr. Ashboume is chairman of the subcommittee on fish and perhaps he would try to get it for us.
Mr. Ashbourne I will try to get it.
Mr. Hollett Thank you, and will you try to find out how much merchantable fish was brought in from Lamaline and elsewhere?
Mr. Miller I know a little about selling fish to St. John's, and we generally believe the cull to be rather strict in St. John's, but I have seen a fisheries receipt for a total of 26 quintals of fish, and there were 23 quintals of merchantable out of 26. These figures can be verified
Mr. McCarthy It would be very interesting to find out if there is any merchantable fish exported, because there are a lot of people inquiring about that. I have seen quite a lot of fish on the west coast, but I have yet to see a merehantable fish. There is a difference of $1 per quintal, I think.
Mr. Hickman Mr. Smallwood a few minutes ago said that Lamaline had never known a merchantable fish. I would like to know on what authority he said that.
Mr. Smallwood I believe you are putting words in my mouth.
Mr. Job I suppose we will have to try to get that information. Will that end it for the time being? We have 15 pages of this to do.
Mr. Newell Does this whole thing not point to a weakness in our whole method of curing codfish? I am no authority on this, but wherever you go you hear the same kind of comments, and usually where there is a great deal of smoke there is a little fire somewhere. As far as I understand the system of culling and exporting fish, going back a step from where we were yesterday, I presume whoever is selling codfish employs the local culler, who in turn is under oath to act fairly in the best of his ability to all parties concerned. Of course no man can be expected to do more than the best of his ability. I am not sure if the man's ability is ascertained before he is given a license or not.
Mr. Job it is very difficult to get expert cullers.
Mr. Newell Codfish is bought by the dealers, and culled by local cullers appointed by the local dealer. I would not say that the culler gave an advantage to the local dealer, but that clause that the man must cull to the best of his ability does, after all, admit of certain very grave weaknesses. On the other hand, when the same codfish is exported to the markets it is culled under the supervision of inspectors of the Fishery Board. When the exporting merchant is packing his fish for export he has the same cullers in his store, but March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 405 he also has a supervisor or inspector from the Fishery Board on the premises, who is seeing to it that the codfish is culled strictly according to Fishery Board standards. That does admit of a double standard, to use that phrase, in the marketing of codfish.... I think that better supervision is required at the point of production.
Mr. Starkes I don't think Mr. Newell is quite clear there. My experience is that before a culler can get a permit to cull fish, that application has to be signed by the fish inspector of the territory over which he is working. For instance, if I wanted a culler today I could not appoint any man on my premises. That man had to be approved by the fish inspector before his application was sent in to the Fishery Board, before he could get his license at all.
Mr. Smallwood There is just one point that I want to make, and that's about a plentiful supply of fresh water in the washing of fish. In looking at the tariff I find that the duty on pumps — well, there are two rates, one for pumps for mining purposes, and one "for all other purposes", including the fishery. It is 20% full duty, 20% intermediary duty and 10% preferential. Well, if a pump is imported from the British Isles then the duty is 10%, but if it comes from Canada it is 20%. Does anyone happen to know where most of the pumps come from — Britain or this side of the Atlantic?
Mr. Hollett The USA.
Mr. Smallwood Well, that means that the duty will be 20%, so that the fishermen using the pumps pay a price which I imagine would make the use of these pumps very strictly limited. We all know as far as the inshore fishery is concerned there are not too many pumps used. I know places where they are used, and I take it that the Committee puts a lot of value on that. What is wrong with the government, or the Fisheries Board acting for the government, or some official body of the government, importing 10-15,000 pumps from the manufacturer, getting them at a special price, bringing them in duty free and selling them at cost? If it is valuable for the fishermen to have a plentiful supply of clean water why not do the thing right, and why leave it to the individual fisherman when the government could bring in lots of pumps and sell them at perhaps half the price that they are paying for mem now? Has anybody considered that?
Mr. Cashin What page is that?
Mr. Smallwood It runs all through.
Mr. Cashin When did they use fresh water for washing fish?
Mr. Smallwood Clean water, I mean. The pump is the ideal thing. I remember the first one I saw in Catalina ten years ago....
Mr. Northcott I have been nibbling at the saltfish business for the past 25 years, and 1 would like to remind the Convention that all that glitters in the saltfish business is not gold. The past few years much money has been made by many people and firms from the fishery, but a few years back I got the jitters from it, and not the gold that glitters. The same can be applied to many other fishermen and firms all over Newfoundland. Today, I am happy to see the fish plants coming to the fore, and I hope and pray that markets will be found to take care of our fresh frozen products, and that many more new factories will spring up and take care of the various other species of fish that we have around our coast. It will also give considerable employment that we need to make the dollar go round and round....
Mr. Vincent I think we should have the specific amount of fish and the grades classified. If the Fisheries Board have these figures, it should not be difficult to get them.
Mr. Jones ....I understand on the southwest coast, they use boats of ten tons — one dory and three men — and I understand there is no bounty given for boats of that size. I think that is a great pity, if it is true. If they could get a bounty, more would be built. Do they get bounty under 12 tons?
Mr. Reddy Under 12 tons there is no bounty.
Mr. Smallwood What proportion are under 12 tons?
Mr. Reddy Mostly they are over 12 tons.
Mr. Hollett Page 54: "The Committee urges the appropriate authorities that they should be concerned whenever possible so to orientate improvements in transportation and communication facilities as to have the maximum impact upon the development of our fisheries. Thus the connecting of the roads system of the Burin and Avalon Peninsulas is of vital importance." Can Mr. Job tell me what importance such a road would have in Burin or Avalon?
Mr. Job That came up in interviews with Mr. Arthur Monroe who runs a plant at Burin. He expressed the opinion that if the road were com 406 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 pleted, it would make a big difference to the fishery there.
Mr. Hollett How?
Mr. Job It would enable them to bring fish from other places to the plant.
Mr. Smallwood By truck.
Mr. Hollett What other places?
Mr. Job Placentia Bay and Trinity Bay. You would not fish from the south of Trinity Bay up to there. I do not know the distance.
Mr. Hollett Therefore the government is going to spend $15 million for the fish plant. I can see no advantage to the saltfish trade. You talk of green, fresh fish — I would like for someone to point out some fishing places along that road.
Mr. Starkes I agree with Mr. Job. There are several other places where roads are important — e.g. Green Bay. There it is four miles from the plant to the sea; if the road was made passable by truck, the men in Shoal Cove could send fish to the plant. I do not agree with one road only, Burin to Avalon.
Mr. Reddy Ithink the road to Burin is absolutely essential to the fish plant at Burin. One reason Mr. Monroe gave us was that he cannot get in touch with the plant except by steamer; and it is necessary for him to get in contact daily; and the only means is by road.
Mr. Hollett You are going to put a road there so that Mr. Monroe can get back and forth to his plant?
Mr. Reddy For the benefit of the plant. The Burin Peninsula is the most isolated place in the island of Newfoundland.
Mr. Banfield I disagree with Mr. Hollett regarding there being no fish caught in the bottom of Fortune Bay. There is a certain amount caught.
Mr. Hollett How much?
Mr. Banfield I have not got the figures.
Mr. Hollett There may be a reason for spending $1.5 million on a road there; I was born in Burin and if the road is necessary, I am perfectly in accord. I am taking the attitude that they should show me that it is essential. Just how much fish is caught down there?
Mr. Job You do not know how much can be caught.
Mr. Hollett I have seen so much thrown away on roads, that I am getting fed up, especially when talking about a balanced budget. We have the distance from Burin to Argentia — 40 miles — if Mr. Monroe wants to go to Argentia, he can go across the bay. If you can show me that this road is essential and beneficial then I am all in accord. The terrain through which the road will go has very little agricultural prospects. If we forget the transportation of fish — and there is very little fish — I cannot see what advantage it is to the cold storage plant. That road will be open six months of the year. Wherein lies the advantage?
Mr. Job It will be aconnection between Fonune Bay, St. J ohn's and other settlements, apart from the fish plant. There should be a connection between Fortune Bay and St. John's.
Mr. Hollett Do you know they go from St. John's to Fortune Bay by road? A distance of 55 miles?
Mr. Banfield The road is there now.
Mr. Job Some sort of road.
Mr. Smallwood How many fishing settlements will it link up with Burin? How many on the Burin Peninsula side and how many on the Placentia Bay side?
Mr. Ryan In the district of Placentia West. it will link up Boat Harbour and there are only half a dozen fishermen there.
Mr. Smallwood I cannot picture the way the road is going to run. This should not be in the report as a sample of road for fisheries.
Mr. Reddy It is not altogether for fisheries; it is to prevent isolation in the Burin Peninsula. The greatest salt codfishery in Newfoundland is on the Burin Peninsula.
Mr. Hollett If Mr. Reddy was minister of public works would he be prepared to authorise the expenditure in connection with the Burin and Avalon Peninsulas, knowing how little it would affect the economy of Newfoundland?
Mr. Reddy I certainly would. It would bring those people out of the isolation that they have been in for years and years.
Mr. Hollett I lived in Burin, I could always get to Canada or anywhere else I wanted to go; I was never isolated on the Burin Peninsula, if I was not afraid of getting seasick.
Mr. Ryan I agree with Mr. Hollett. The only explanation they give for it is that Mr. Monroe can get to the plant in Burin.
Mr. Reddy I agree with Mr. Job that it is essential. You have to get there by steamer and you are sometimes waiting a month; therefore the road is March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 407 essential.
Mr. Vincent I agree with Mr. Holiett for the reason we should have had the road 30 years ago.
Mr. Starkes On the north side of Bonavista Bay, thereis no chance to get out of it. You cannot take a boat.
Mr. Keough It was intended to stress "where possible and feasible". Unfortunately we mentioned the Burin road; perhaps we should have mentioned Bonavista, Bonne Bay or Cape Norman. You are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Mr. Hollett You say it is of vital importance.
Mr. Keough We have not said it was more vital than any other place.
Mr. Vincent I think the word "vital" should be deleted.
[Moved and seconded that the word "vital" be deleted. Motion carried]
Mr. Starkes Page 47: "The Committee is aware of the existing scheme that provides for a possible maximum of $80 insurance on the death of trawl fishermen." Is that just trawlers?
Mr. Job Bank fishermen.
Mr. Smallwood The bank fisherman, if he is lost, his family gets $80, from whom?
Mr. Job From the government through the Customs department.
Mr. Smallwood Is there a premium on it?
Mr. Job 50 cents a man.
Mr. Keough I think it is 20 cents a man.
Mr. Smallwood The fisherman pays it to the Customs when the vessel clears; and if he loses his life his family gets $80. Is that all a man gets if he loses his life on the Banks?
Mr. Job The amount was recently increased from $60 to $80. That is what he gets and what he gets from the PMDF.[1]
Mr. Hollett That is paid just once, not $80 a year. Is this the fishermen's insurance scheme I asked about, or have you something else?
Mr. Hillier I think I was responsible in some way for social security having been introduced into the Fisheries Report. For years I have felt that fishermen should have some protection. Our fishermen begin fishing at the age of 18 and fish until they can no longer get into a boat and in many cases it has been brought to my notice, when they can no longer get into a boat they are very much in the same position as when they began. When the first meeting was held I asked permission to mention that social security scheme. I had in mind something in the nature of retiring allowances; that is, a man on reaching the age of 60 would receive a retiring allowance so that for the remainder of his days he would be looked after, and in the case of sickness would not have to fall back on the government. There have been cases where men in the prime of health have been called across the bar. They have nothing to leave to their wives and families. The wife and family is completely dependent upon, I think, $10 a quarter — the widow's mite. I felt that should not be. There should be something to provide for his family. Therefore I introduced the idea that there should be some quarterly contribution made by the fishermen so that their families could be looked after. The insurance scheme before us applies in the case of death; there is no provision in the case of sickness and both the man and his family must fall back absolutely upon the government and I do not think that is good enough. I have here a social security scheme drawn up by Mr. Bannikin which was presented to the Department of Natural Resources in 1943. I think it is a good one. My plan was to collect from the fishermen and that is not so easy. His is to collect so much yearly from the exporters of our products, place it in the hands of the government and from that to pay yearly to fishermen on pensions. If it is in order. I would ask the Secretary to read that scheme.
Mr. Chairman What is your scheme? If it is in the nature of general social security it would apply not only to fishermen but to others as well. If it is something for the protection of fishermen in the event of loss of life in the course of their advocacy, we could have it read.
Mr. Hillier That is what it is meant to be.
Mr. Chairman If it is to apply to all, it is irrelevant here because we are discussing fisheries. On the other hand if the Convention desires to read it, they may do so.
Mr. Job I would suggest that you might have that printed and circulated to the members. It is an interesting document. This question of social security is dealt with by the Board of Trade and they are on the point of making some recommendation in connection with it. I think it is a waste of time reading that now, but it might be 408 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 mimeographed and circulated to the members.
Mr. Chairman I think it will be something in the nature of an encroachment on the Healm and Welfare Committee, and I suggest to Mr. Hillier that he submit it to that committee. In the meantime it is no harm to have it mimeographed and circulated among the members, but it is not strictly relevant to this debate.
Mr. Hillier I feel that a social security scheme for the fishermen would be a great benefit.
Mr. Smallwood The report Mr. Hillier has was prepared by Mr. Bannikin, and deals entirely with social security for fishermen only. I think that Mr. Job's suggestion is an excellent one and would meet the desire of Mr. Hillier to give the information to the other members.
Mr. Crosbie With regard to the discussion held a short time ago regarding the quality of fish. I have here the figures for 1943, 1944 and 1945, and the percentage of merchantable fish for these years is 4%, 2% and 2%.
Mr. Jackman Before we get on to the catch again I would like to protest against this niggardly sum the government is going to offer our fishermen. I would not like to say what I think about it, but I would like the opportunity of putting a vote of censure on the government.
Mr. Job That's been in force here for a very long time, you know.
Mr. Smallwood That makes it all the worse.
Mr. Chairman Is the committee ready for the question?
Mr. Vardy Before you put the question I would like the committee to turn to the report where it says "less $90 ton bounty." I am wondering if the Committee is thinking of boats from 20 tons up. I think you will find that it is $70 per ton from 12 to 25 tons, and there is not any bounty on the engines if they are gasoline; they must be full diesel. You get $15 bounty on full diesel.
Mr. Job Mr. Reddy can reply to that.
Mr. Reddy That's only put in for comparison, probably the real bounty on that boat was $45. That's the fishery bounty today.
Mr. Vardy This is going over the air, and people will be writing in expecting to get $90 per ton for that boat. It's nice to clear it up. I may say that I have not looked at these figures before, although I made a guess the other day when I mentioned the assistance given ex-servicemen. I am happy that my guess was pretty well correct. I would also like to have a word on this social security scheme. I have a lot of sympathy with this scheme prepared by Mr. Bannikin. I think we all will agree that Mr. Bannikin, being a very good businessman (he has invested most of the money he has made in various fishery experiments and otherwise), has a good knowledge of conditions in the country. I am in full accord with all the Committee say there. I agree with the report, generally speaking, all the way through. I would like to see more of these central curing stations to take care of the surplus fish. It would be a good answer to a lot of the country's taxes being spent very unwisely in other directions, by selling to better advantage to promote and modernise the fishery. It is still the staple industry.... I would like to see the future government of this country exert every effort to have fresh freezing plants built all over the country. Until then the fishing industry will have a struggle.
That matter of $80 insurance. I would like to add my support to the previous speakers, because I think it is an insult to the widow ofa man who goes to the Banks in Newfoundland or Labrador or anywhere else. We know that our government could easily place an insurance on the head of every fisherman, for a small nominal cost, and I think arrangements could be made whereby, for a minimum premium. provision could be made for those who were less fortunate. The time is ripe for it....
Mr. Hollett There is just one other point in connection with this. I may have something to say on the insurance later.
Mr. Job That's the only thing.
Mr. Hollett I understood the government were planning a fishermen's insurance scheme.
Mr. Job I never heard of it. The Board of Trade are working on it, and they have some proposals.
Mr. Hollett Did you inquire from the government whether they were doing anything?
Mr. Job No.
Mr. Hollett Would it be too much to ask the Committee to find out before the debate is over? The point I want to make is on page 54: "Under the incomparable chairmanship of Mr. Raymond Gushue the Board has functioned to the very great advantage of the industry and the country." I believe the Board is doing an excellent job, and I understand the Committee intended to pay the Board and Mr. Gushue a compliment, but what March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 409 kind of a compliment is it when you look over at the next page: "the fullest co-operation of the trade that made the notable achievements of the Fisheries Board possible." Well now, is that correct? What is going to happen when the trade takes away its genial support?
Mr. Job I don't think they will take it away. I dare say Mr. Hollett will remember that in 1920 or 1921 when the late Sir William Coaker endeavoured to tackle this question of the organisation of the fisheries, the trade was divided very seriously, and it got into a political atmosphere and the thing was an absolute failure. I believe if the trade had supported it, then the whole thing would have been brought into being then, but there was so much political spleen brought in that it killed it. We have been fortunate in getting the trade to support it now. I believe that if they don't we will not be able to carry it on.
[After some further discussion, the section was passed. The Secretary read the next section[1]]
Mr. Job This is all on the co-operative movement — a very important one in the future of the country, and personally I think it is a very important matter. This section was written — as most the rest of it was — by Mr. Keough, who is a keen co-operative man, and he did reserve the right to criticise the figures given at the end of the section, having regard to the challenging by certain people of the figures of the co-operatives. The contention of the one witness we had before us, who is interested in canning, was that it would pay the country better if the lobsters, instead of being shipped alive, had all been canned. It seems very doubtful whether that's correct, but anyhow Mr. Keough reserves the right to criticise that although he agreed to put it in the report in favour of the opposition.
Mr. Keough What I have to say I have written out in the form of a statement, so that we will not get mixed up in the statistics.
With regard to that section of this report that deals with the co-operative movement at its points of contact with the fisheries — and in particular in respect of the co-operative shipping of live lobster — I think it only fair to the Committee to say that it did accept in good faith information which I supplied. In addition a further statement was supplied to the Committee, the intent of which was to show wherein the co- operatives could have obtained greater returns if instead of marketing their lobster live they had canned it and marketed the same direct. I was quite willing that such statement should be included in this report in order that both sides of the story might be told. But when I signed the Fisheries Report I did so with the distinct understanding that I would take some issue with that statement of how the co-operatives might have done better when such statement would come before the Convention. I now do so....
[Mr. Keough argued at length that it was uncertain whether co-operatives had in fact lost money by shipping live lobster]
Mr. Hollett There seems to be a disagreement among the Fisheries Committee. I could not follow Mr. Keough's dissertation and I would like to have a copy of his speech. An attempt has been made to prove there is more benefit from canned than from live lobster. I think it is a matter between the co-operatives and the trade.
Mr. Smallwood I am not going into the point Mr. Keough touched on. He is an auditor among the credit societies where a great many lobsters have been handled in recent years, and if he is satisfied it is the most economical thing to ship them alive, I am going to accept his word for it. That is not what I wanted to say, but rather this: it is a wonderful thing that this Fisheries Committee, consisting of several of the country's best- known fish merchants and exporters, brings in a report, a big section of which deals with the co-operative movement.... The fact that this movement, young as it is, has been able to produce for this Convention men of the type of Mr. Keough, Mr. Newell and Mr. McCarthy, is the most important thing about this whole country today. I am not too optimistic about this country and I am completely honest in that. There are some encouraging things and some discouraging things about it. One of the encouraging things, basically and fundamentally, is the existence of this great co-operative movement which does not extend far enough and which I hope will extend throughout the country; that will make a big difference in the lives of our people. I congratulate the co-operatives on being represented in this Convention. Ten years ago we would have been laughed at for talking co-operatives; today it is not laughing matter. Ten years from now, 410 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 please God, it will be the biggest thing in this country.
Mr. Job I might ask Mr, Newell to give us some information as to what government support the co-operative movement is getting. Some people think it is getting too much and some people think it is not getting enough.
Mr. Newell I did not intend to have anything to say on this. As far as I know, the co-operative is a good thing. It has not only the strong endorsement but the flattering OK of the Fisheries Committee. I was prepared to leave it at that. I am not entirely in a position to speak for the government or the Co-operative Division. I have never worked for the (Co-operative Division of the government. I think, though, I am doing the same kind of work as their field workers are. As far as I know, there is no co-operative society in this country today receiving financial assistance from the government. When the idea of co-operatives was first mooted by the government — it was mooted long before that by Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the first co-operative was organised by him 35 to 40 years ago — but when the idea was first mooted by the government they brought over an expert from England. He was an expert on cooperatives but not an expert on Newfoundland, because he recommended, I understand, that the only way we could get a start here would be by government loans. I believe considerable sums were loaned to three co-operative societies. One of these was known to exist years afterwards and the people took it over and built a good strong society. Whether the other two or three ever paid off their loans, I am not in a position to say. That first experiment on the basis of loans was written off as a failure generally. The past did sow in the minds of the people the idea of co-operatives. As far as I know, not one cent of government money was invested in this society which was taken over by the people.
Mr. Keough There are one or two in land settlements.
Mr. Newell I did not know that. I believe they were not organised; I think the money was invested in them in the land settlement stage.
Mr. Keough Yes.
Mr. Newell There is an amount spent on cooperative education. I do not know how much.
Mr. Cashin $50,000.
Mr. Newell That covers the salaries of some eight or ten field workers plus their travelling expenses.
Mr. Cashin 22 workers; $31,000.
Mr. Newell They are not up to their full staff. It is not as many as 22. There are a number of vacancies. Anyway, that $50,000 grant is spent on co-operative education, that is to say they send out adult teachers to organise study groups to assist people in the organisation of study groups. They are not permitted, as far as I know, to participate in the business management of such societies, so that any money that is expended is expended as an educational vote.
Mr. Job Are they taxed?
Mr. Newell There is taxation on co-operatives. At the present time I am not too sure about the details. I cannot speak on them. I am not much concerned with the business end of it; it is merely from a layman's point of view. I understand they are taxed on any profits. Strictly speaking, if they were co-operatives they would not make profits, but some of them do make profits. By that I mean they sell goods to people who are not members of the societies and thereby make profits. They are taxed on the basis of these and also on any amount they pay as dividends on share capital invested by their share holders....
Mr. Northcott I must agree with Mr. Keough on the question of lobsters....
Mr. Job In reply to Mr. Hollett I would like to say there is no disagreement in the Committee. We thought it fair to present both sides of the case. Mr. Keough thought so too.
Mr. Hollett I did not say you had a fight — I merely said there was a disagreement. I am not a co-operative man as far as the co-operative movement is concerned, I am not connected with it. That table on page 56 is interesting. I find that in 1946 at least, the co-operatives have persuaded the trade to come up to their price.
Mr. Job 1 do not think you noticed the note at the top of page 57: "....cold storage operations were not conducted in the area in l942-1943- 1944." Cold storage — that refers to salmon.
Mr. Newell In order to keep the record straight, there is another point you have to consider which does not appear in this report. During the years 1942-43, 1944-45, these particular co-operatives were the only producing co-operatives. As far as salmon was concerned they shipped a high quality product and received the best prices. In March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 411 other words they did not lose one single pound for bad quality. The fishermen looked after it all the way through. We did not need fishery inspectors — we had 250 inspectors and these were the fishermen themselves. But last year, 1946, they ran into their first snag — 16% of the total product was affected by spoilage, which does make some difference in the figures. The first four years were maximum figures; last year was a doubtful year.
Mr. Burry In rising to comment on this section of the report, it does not mean I was not impressed by the rest of it. I note that the Committee has recognised that our basic problem is our people scattered around our great coastline. They have made a very good attempt to solve some of the difficulties of this problem. It has been suggested by other members that there is a gap — and we all recognise it and are sensitive to it — between the primary producer and the exporter and the trade. The Committee has recognised this and have made some very good suggestions to solve the problem. That seems to be one of their aims. They made suggestions for the modernisation of our fisheries and I support this section of the Committee's report because this is also one of their suggestions — one way in which we can span the gap. I am pleased because it came from the Fisheries Committee with representatives on it of various sections of our country, and undoubtedly the trade and exporters have played such a part in presenting this report, it is hopeful for the future....
[The committee rose and reported progress, and the Convention adjourned]


Newfoundland. The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948 Vol 1: Debates. Edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington Montreal: Memorial University of Newfoundland by McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995).



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Notes de bas de page:

  • [1] Volume II:181. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Volume II:192. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • Permanent Marine Disaster Fund.
  • [1] Volume II:202. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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